Firefighters at Station 38 in Centreville gathered Wednesday morning to honor the memories of the fire-and-rescue workers who lost their lives, last Sept. 11. Earlier, Capt. George Sisson, the station commander, recalled the outpouring of support that firefighters here received from the local community.
"After last year's attacks, there was a significant rise in feeling and appreciation for what we do," he said. "People would honk horns and wave when they saw firetrucks driving by, and they'd say "hi" to firefighters they saw in the grocery store, buying food for their dinner."
Sisson said schools brought posters to the station, and firefighters received cakes and candies from people who'd say, "I just wanted to say thank-you." Said Sisson: "It was a nice feeling, all around."
Station 38 firefighters helped during the aftermath at the Pentagon, and at least seven of them participated in draping the huge American flag over one side of that building.
Since the tragedy, said Sisson, Fairfax County's Fire and Rescue Department has made "great efforts trying to pull together our communications capabilities with surrounding jurisdictions so we're on the same radio frequency, rather than being patched in, for clearer communications."
He said firefighters already receive weapons-of-mass-destruction training at the Fire and Rescue Academy and are being made aware that, "after a first explosion, there might be a second [one] — don't assume you're safe." Sisson also noted how a December fire at the Braddock Springs Apartments in Centreville profoundly affected the firefighters.
"A couple firefighters were severely injured, and almost losing one of our own drove the point home that we need to look out for each other," he said. "Any firefighting or rescue operation is truly a team effort."
<tgl> — Bonnie Hobbs